I’m a huge Manchester United fan. I love it when they win, and conversely, I feel like life is a bit drearier when they lose. After a 3-1 win against the Champions League titleholders, Barcelona, I must have been ecstatic, right? Eh, not so fast. While on paper a wins a win, there’s a whole lot going on behind the curtains, and when analyzed, reveals just how far my Red Devils have to go before the start of the new season. Here’s a list of what I believe we must accomplish if we truly want to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League titles next season:
This is by far the #1 for me. Throughout the game, Louis Suarez abused our back four, particularly Daley Blind. Blind is not a natural Central Defender. His best position is a defensive midfielder role where he’s able to go box-to-box and distribute the ball wide to the wingers.
Beyond Blind, we have Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, and Chris Smalling as likely starters for the other starting Central Defender role. Jones, like Blind, is better used as a Defensive Midfielder in my opinion. He also comes with some fitness concerns. Rojo is a better Fullback than a Central Defender. Smalling, while a natural Central Defender, shouldn’t be considered a #1 at a world class club like Manchester United.
We desperately need a Central Defender who can lead the back line from his play and his voice. We need the equivalent of Chelsea’s John Terry, but obviously younger. If we don’t buy that player we’re going to be exposed through the middle all season long.
Years ago I would have placed Rooney as one of the worlds best strikers. However, each campaign he gets pushed deeper and deeper into the midfield, so much so that I no longer even consider him a Striker, let alone an effective one. He’s world class, there’s no doubt about that, but only when he’s playing the distributor role and has free reign to roam the field.
That’s why we need a pure Striker. Look who the world’s best teams have up top: Barcelona (Suarez), Munich (Lewandowski), Madrid (Ronaldo - under Benetiz he’ll likely play there), City (Aguero) PSG (Zlatan), Chelsea (Costa), Atletico (Griezmann). And who does united have? Depay? He’s not a pure Striker; he’s much better utilized in his natural role as a winger. Then who’s next, James Wilson? Yikes! There’s a reason we’ve been linked to a striker all off-season, because we need one, and badly.
Wait, that’s it? I am quite surprised that I only came up with two needs. When I began writing this I thought I was going to need to go 3 or 4 deep, but I can honestly say I would feel great if we could address just these two positions.
Across the board we’re solid everywhere else. Our fullbacks are young yet experienced, with loads of talent and athleticism to get up and down the flanks. Our midfield is stacked with the likes of Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, and Herrera. Our wingers Depay, Young, Mata, and Januzaj is up there with the Premier Leagues best. And last but not least, barring a move to Madrid, we’ll have de Gea between the pipes.
Louis van Gaal, buy Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller and I will be a happy man.